The weathermen tell us that March is the first month of Spring so in this our third look at my 2017 Garden Journal we shall see if our garden illustrates this idea at all.
As an introduction to the month I wrote,”March is the month that should “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb”. This year it came in like a wet fish! Rain and wind dominated, interspersed with occasional bright cheerful days. In the first week we managed very few gardening moments. But the Avocet patch will not be beaten, with leaf and flower buds bursting on trees and shrubs, signs of colour waiting in the wings.”
“Bursting blooms”! I continued by sharing photos of flowers bursting from buds.
“Unfurling foliage!” And more of foliage escaping their bursting buds.
Turing over the page reveals a look at our Fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris and Fritillaria uva vulpis which grow in our Spring Garden and in Arabella’s Garden.
I write among my photos of Fritillaries, “Fantastic Fritillaries – a March marvel!
I looked for all the common local names for this Fritillary. “Our native Fritillary also known as Fritillaria meleagris is a plant of many names.”
“Snake’s Head Fritillary – Chequered Lily.”
“Chess Flower – Leper Lily” – Lazurus Bell”
“Guinea-Hen Flower” – “Frog Cup”
“Drooping Tulip” – “Chequered Daffodil”
We grow our native Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris in our “Spring Garden”, but we also grow Fritillaria uva vulpis with flowers that are so different inside and out.
“Purple and yellow on the outside.”
“Yellow, orange and red on the inside.”
Over onto the next double page spread and I take a look at a special rather subtle plant combination and some early tulips.
I wrote that “Good plant companions and communities are what lifts a garden above a collection of plants put on display. Sometimes two beautiful special plants with strong attributes of their own shine out even more when joined together to produce a harmonious pairing, each enhancing the other. Here, I feature the combination of a Hebe “Red Edge” and a Prunus, P. “Kojo No Mai”. The blushing of the Hebe foliage is a perfect foil for the “washing powder white” of the Prunus’ petals.”
Moving on to look at some of our species tulips, I wrote, “The tiny flowers of our many species Tulips are now putting in an appearance, impressing with their delicacy and subtlety. The blooms open with the sun and close with its disappearance.”
Next we move on to my plant of the month for March. I wrote.
“My plant of the month for March is a Celandine called “Brazen Hussey”, a chance find by Christopher Lloyd discovered in a clump of our native Celandine in a lane near his home. Our native Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria brightens up our hedgerows with its deeply glossy foliage and yellow “Buttercup” flowers, while “Brazen Hussey” sports glossy purple-black foliage.
“We grow a small patch of our native Celandine but as it can become very invasive it has to be strictly controlled.”
“We grow several other Celandines too because they are such cheerful addictions to the Spring Garden, a white cultivar, Ranunculus fiscaria “Randall’s White …………….”
“….. a pale yellow flower against bronzed foliage ……”
“……. a Giant Celandine and a Green Celandine.”
On the next double page spread we look at our new summerhouse and a selection of special small flowers.
Concerning the summerhouse I wrote, “As we put the finishing touches to our new summerhouse birds are busy gathering nest materials, with many setting up home in the nestboxes we provide for them. The first of our summer migrants are back, the little warbler, the Chiffchaff with its distinctive and repetitive call and the Little Owl calling out in the evening like a yapping Jack Russell Terrier. As we work in the garden the larger of our birds of prey, Buzzards and Red Kites enjoy the thermals overhead, often stooping low over our heads. In contrast our smallest bird of prey, the diminutive Merlin rushes through the garden at head height or lower disturbing the resident Blackbirds.
On the opposite page I looked at those special little flowering plants that catch the gardener’s eye at this time of the gardening year. In other seasons when the garden is rich in flowers these special little gems may get overlooked in favour of the bigger, bolder and brighter cousins. I wrote, “At this time of year every small flower is extra special and deserving of our closest attention.”
“Hacquetia epipactus and Iris reticulata “George”
“Erysimum Red Jep”
The next turn of the page reveals a page about Primulas and the next about pollarding willows and dogwoods.
I wrote,”In February I wrote about the first of our native Primroses coming into flower, but in March they flourish along with their relatives.The pictures below show the diversity that we grow and enjoy.”
When I looked at pollarding and coppicing I wrote that, “The last week of March were mild and sometimes sunny so we took the opportunity to prune down our shrubs that we grow for their coloured stems, Cornus and Salix. We coppice some, pollard others.”
I continued to look at Salix and Cornus coloured stems on the last page of my entries for March, where I featured photographs of the bundles of cut stems.
So that was my garden journal for March. For the next month, April, we will see big changes as Spring becomes established.